Friday, December 30, 2011

Santeetlah Creek

In winter, under crowns of curved ice,
you trade liquid for solid in the cold, cold air.
In warm summer, you’re the laughing white water,
tickler of toes, leaping home of speckled trout.
Rushing, cleansing, each place a small volcano of water                                                      within shape of stone and rush of air.
Deep cold waters from the quiet Earth,
the source a cavern of crystals akin to this white creek.
Santeetlah, you pour down on us from forever,
white jets long to the finale at Santeetlah Lake.
You are a carrier.  You carry leaves of autumn, gold and blood-red,
pine needles, galax, speckled trout,
fragrant mushrooms, eggs of all kinds, rhododendron blooms in spring.
Babies of yours lodge here and there, wedged along the shore,
changing your shape as you change theirs.
Cold and white, the rushes sweep the stones below, and me above.
I’m but a stone here beside you.
In my hair is swift spray, smelling of ice water, galax and laurel.
Crawdads and minnows play “hide and seek” between my fingers.
My spine is the long stone of your vitality,
icy fluid whose leaps make me dance.
Annelinde Metzner


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Darkness

Coming together here, we warm each other’s hearts in the darkness.

The Sun, far away, yearns to embrace us in Her warmth once again.

But this is our time to journey into the depths of the darkness.

This is the time to surrender and listen deep to our souls.

This is the time to close our eyes, slow down and be lulled by the darkness.

Our blessed Mother Gaia dwells within the darkness.

Inhale the song of Her soul, Her soil, Her dark caves, Her rich dark humus.

Mother Earth welcomes you into the darkness.

Walk with confidence, all people, walk safely into the darkness.

Let us love the night, the moon, the stars, the planets, the Seven Sisters high above.

Revel in this other half of our lives, the darkness.

The beauty of the dark earth, the darkness of skin, the dark curves of mountain roads,

The Seven Sister Mountains in their powerful darkness, presiding over Black Mountain,

Our dark blood, our Earth, our deepest selves, the darkness.

Annelinde Metzner
November 16, 2010

Purchase Knob double rainbows caught on webcam!

Listen to Annelinde in a reading of "The Darkness":

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blindsiding into Baghdad

I putter along the highway, in my own world,
and squeak! an eighteen-year-old hotshot with his dad’s Camaro
whips in front of me with an inch to spare.
I dare to pull into the left lane and in an instant
an SUV wide as a freighter, higher than my rooftop,
plants itself at my rear bumper
as though I had trespassed on its private turf.
It’s as if they didn’t know the car’s sides
are solid as Origami puffballs,
mostly plastic, a few thin supports,
just enough frame to get the car off the lot.
You’ve got your wheels, and off you go,
weaving and straining for speed,
thinking of Dale and some boss who cursed you,
never the masses of twisted metal,
the strewn and extruded body parts
you’ve seen lying by the side of the road.

High school recruiters know this.
The tender-faced boys of seventeen, barely shaving yet,
Moms still patting their shrugging shoulders
as they leave home with a bag lunch,
seventeen but already bored,
bored to tears with life as it is, the same girls, the same books,
the same horizon as flat as the future,
the same parents, the same nothing-to-do, forever and forever.
The almost-little boys at the recruiting table,
soft inside as Easter chocolate,
eye the M-16 rifles and the Hum-Vees, seeing the future there,
anywhere but here,
forgetting what they’ve heard of ambushes, booby traps,
amputees waiting hours for treatment,
mustard gas, nerve gas, depleted uranium.
You careen down the highway in your gossamer Camaro
and suddenly the day comes, you’re off the plane,
heat smacks you in the face, dust rolls in,
and a weapon’s on your shoulder, your little piece of power.
Boredom and terror, boredom and terror.
One hundred a week wounded in action,
home again with no health coverage, or no home at all.
You sit for hours playing cards
with guys from some other godforsaken town like yours,
loud rock and hip-hop to remind you of who you were.
Long after the uranium exposure, babies are born
anophthalmic, no eyes at all.
Napalm, another WMD, melts human skin in Fallujah.
But everybody run!  You’re out on the streets,
kicking down doors with one hard boot.
You aim past women with babes in arms,
grandmas and grandpas cowering in corners,
and back outside through terror-lined streets. 
Your buddies holler you back, and it's quiet,              
a retreat. Music plays, supper comes.
You have no idea where you are.
This is not Kansas and your best buddy is gone.
Careening through Baghdad, they fold like Jettas.
No one asked; never a frame for this.
You were heading for what?                                                                                                      The screaming women?  The blood?  The mangled babes?
The spitting rage?  The broken and endless days?
The tender flesh, once so shiny, fresh as dew,
blindsides into Baghdad, wishing you knew.

Annelinde Metzner
March 2005

In 2010, 468 active duty and reserve troops committed suicide while 462 died in combat, marking the second year in a row that more US soldiers killed themselves than died at war, according to Congressional Quarterly's John Donnelly.


Friday, December 9, 2011

The Falling Away

December, the biting cold creeps under our shirts and stays.
All of us have given away whatever we could spare.
Brown and crackling leaves, sheets of bark,
molted feathers, old skins,
To the Earth they go!  and we
pull the thick covers around us, and wait.
It’s decaying time, the winter of the year,
the dry and the old falling away to our beloved Earth.
Time to wait, time to gaze,
fix the eyes in the far distance,
fall inward, and dream.
The cypress, old and long dead,
resonates hollow to my knuckles.
She gives away, layer upon layer,
falling down and reaching up with pointed fingers of  bark,
falling more beautifully with each wind, each snow and rain.
And what am I left with when the rain and snow
tear away at me, leaving only what She will?
What fingers do I use to point with grace to the blue cold of the sky,
as to each thing I bid farewell?
When the Earth herself is pure, deep, black ice down to the roots,
have I what it takes to hold, to wait,
to dream of the deep, and to dream of the turning,
to know what comes next, to hold back, to inhale, watch and wait,
let the falling away and the icy stillness
make me more simple, more pure, more austere,  more beautiful every day?
In the long stillness, seemingly endless,
is there a cell in me somewhere reveling in the new spring rain,
the moisture of someday,
the lush rich humus waiting to open beneath our feet?

Annelinde Metzner
December 2008
Meher Baba Center, SC

Listen to Annelinde reading "The Falling Away":

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Holy City

Grandmother Mountain, my Holy City

“This is the Holy City,” said Jouad, "Horse," our guide,
in Moulay Idriss, sparkling ancient citadel
climbing the Atlas Mountains.
“The Holy City,” and She is, my Grandmother,
vast, ancient, singing.
Oldest mountain,
what populations whir in your ethers,
unseen to ordinary eyes?
‘’All here is holy,” said Jouad.
All here is holy!
All is of Her, each rhododendron bloom,
each fire pink,
Holy! the lichen and the moss in the rock.
Holy! the cohosh with its spiked bloom.
Holy! the whippoorwill, the thrush,
the no-see-ums buzzing up my nose.
All who live here are of Her holy being.
All are one with Her.
No need for lies or self-deceit,
no need for bargains or slight-of-hand tricks.
You, fortunate one, have stumbled into
the Holy City.
You don’t need to wear a hat,
sew cushions, or even kneel.
Here with the worms, the creaking old oaks,
the star magnolias and the blueberries,
being themselves,
you are Holy too, like it or not,
whatever time it may be on your Blackberry or your Nook,
you’re in Her time now, as old as it gets.
Welcome to the Holy City.
In the powerful wind of Solstice, everything changes,
limbs fall from trees, inessentials vanish,
you may lose a limb too,
or parts of your ego you don’t need.
This is the Holy City.
This is your birthplace, you and the bending oak,
you and the ladybug and the black snake.
Around Her jagged outcroppings,  a thousand births wail through time.
Some ascend, some descend the winding paths of the Holy City.
She breathes on, undaunted,
gathering infrasound from all the directions.
This is the Holy City, and we Her inhabitants,
why yes, the Holy Planet it is,
all of us holy, the clear of vision,
the jaded, the obsessed,
the wounded and the whole.
All of us live in the Holy City.
Rest your bare soles on her rich Earth,
wind your toes into her sweet-smelling grass.
Prostrate your bare Soul on Her holy ground,
many times, inchworm.
She is the Mother of us all.

Annelinde Metzner
Grandmother Mountain, North Carolina

Moulay Idriss, holy city of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco

Grandmother Mountain (or "Grandfather") of North Carolina

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tree Mother of Africa

Wangari Maathai, born April 1, 1940, passed into Spirit September 25, 2011
“I’m a child of the soil,” says Wangari.
“I don’t think you need a diploma to plant a tree.”
The women learn.  They plant trees.
Teaching one another, nurturing the seedlings,
brown arms reached deep into the brown earth,
anchoring the eroding hillsides with tiny saplings.
Thirty million planted!
On the faces of rural women in Kenya, there is hope.
“I have a new dress, and I can eat!”,  says one.                                                                   “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Each seedling is watered from hand-held tin cans.                                                                     

The new forest grows, the soil stabilizes.
Animals begin to return.
“Deep in the roots,” says Wangari, “we are planting the seeds of peace.”
After thirty years of planting, nurturing and growing,
Wangari gets the Nobel Prize.
“I’m a child of the soil.”
And isn’t that you and me?                                                                                                        Aren’t  our own brown hands there, planting, waiting, mothering,
knowing all our futures are in the thin new stems, their bending and giving?
“You must empower yourself.  You must break the cycle.
You are planting hope in your life, and for your descendants.”
Wangari steps out on the Oslo balcony with her prize.
The streets erupt in ululation!
This is how we heal the Earth.
This is how we heal the Earth.
This is how we heal the Earth.
“Let’s plant trees!”

Annelinde Metzner
April 2008

Listen to Becky Stone reading "Tree Mother of Africa" by Annelinde Metzner, as part of the performance "In the Mother Grove,"  2009. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Autumn Samba

The bite of fresh compost,
sharp leaf mold in the wind.
Goodbye to the galax,
farewell to the creeper,
“Adios” to the chokecherry vines.
It’s the majestic farewell,
the queen’s farewell.
It’s delicious, it’s numinous, it’s forever!
This is the goodbye of no tears but the rain’s.
Goodbye as relaxed as Guernseys in the alfalfa,
as relaxed as three women in a hot tub.
It’s goodbye, never more be seen,
and it smells like Paris perfume.
It lifts the feet. It’s Fred Astaire.
It’s a lilting “adieux.” It’s bagpipes.
It’s all the cousins waving.
Orange, red, a fandango,
it’s forever, it’s the end,
and if you twirl and spin your way down,
you’ve got the idea.

Annelinde Metzner         September 2001

Listen to Annelinde reading "Autumn Samba:" 

See the poem "Autumn Samba" in the Autumn 2011 issue of Goddess Pages edited by Geraldine Charles. 
Autumn leaves at our feet

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't Live Here!

Grandmother puppet by Lisa Sturz 
Tourists buying postcards on Craggy Mountain never suspect me.
It’s always, “Time to get back in the car!”
just before my long, wild winds come up the hollow.
My winds always precede me.
Folks who have lived here long look for haints and boogers
when they feel me coming near.
But few have seen me. Maybe it’s my hair!
The chokecherry vines that form sort of a bouffant...
I love it when the berries ripen in autumn!
But few have seen me when I creep through rhododendron,
chokecherry and laurel for ornament.
I breathe the dark bass tones of the rhododendron thicket,
my skin like her bark, ancient, enduring.
My breath is in sync with her, unfathomable, unconquerable.
When you step into the dark places of the thicket,
your breath stops.
You’re whirled back to your own birthplace, before time began.
All over my hands are tiny red mushrooms,
rising from moss like a Mardi Gras village!
When you see my hands, you feel as though
you have swum up the bank of a rushing creek,
holding your breath until you emerge.
When you gaze into my eyes, my pupils fade into trillium,
blood-red blooms dangling at the rims, speaking in tongues.
My eyebrows are slow-creeping woolly worms, orange and black.
I float over the hills in a cape of Appalachian flowers:
Jack-in-the-pulpit, butterfly weed, flame azalea, bloodroot,
Indian pipe, chicory, pokeberry, cohosh.
My scent is of millennia of these green beings,
composting, seeding, bursting forth, decaying once more.
When you inhale my scent, you will remember your family.
Generations will array before you
in the distinct garb of your ancestors.
When you breathe my essence, you will fall and weep
at the millennia of lives willing to help you,
sponsor you, give you life.
I carry a staff of mountain ash. Don’t be afraid!
I won’t harm you! though my laughter alone
could squash you into the earth, mere compost,
cousin to the road kills, just another woolly worm.
My staff speaks of power, and that is what you fear,
citizens, tourists, quick-leavers, loud-builders, e-mail talkers.
In the landfills where I wander are your rusted bodies:
freezers, microwaves, last year’s computer.
Decades they require to rust or fade,
the plastic, the alloys, the silicon chips.
And I float to your door. I beckon you and your children’s children
when they wander too far from the flickering screen.
I speak of spice bush, yarrow, ginseng, jewelweed,
sassafras, Solomon’s Seal.
I pull you to the dark where you speak with your soul,
where life takes your breath away.
I make you pine for Life, scream for it.
I hold a mirror to this desire until all else is forgotten,
until you reach for life, until you’ll never give up,
until there on the forest floor we cry, together,
tears of joy.

Annelinde Metzner
September 1995

Listen to Nels Arnold reading  "Don't Live Here" by Annelinde,  performed at "In the Mother Grove" in 2009, with Grandmother puppet by Lisa Sturz  (photo above, Norma Bradley.)   

Rhododendron thicket

Friday, November 4, 2011

What She Is

We live in small spaces, working, eating, sleeping.
Do we know what She is, really?
How, in Arizona, She explodes up from the ground
into mile-high red rock, the Cathedral, the Hands,
or She implodes far down into Her own belly,
displaying Her inner self without secrets,
silent, awesome, vast, powerful, infinite?
Or how She riles Her cold Pacific, daily washing the Western shore,
turquoise and lapis, boulders thrown like pebbles hither and yon,
sea weed and sea lions rejoicing,
whales diving and blowing air as they pass year by year?
North, how She sets forth giant trees,
so wide and tall that each is a world,
each a life for a thousand species, Her silence immense and eternal?
And how Her blood, Water, crashes over rocks through Colorado,
worshiped by the Hopi, drop by drop,
measured enough to grow corn on the dry mesa
or wild enough to scrub the arroyos clean again?
Do we see how wide She is, how vastly new?
Do we gain that joy She intended for us,
privileged as we are to be Her guests?

Annelinde Metzner
August, 2003

        Listen to "What She Is" read by Nels Arnold (with choreography by Shelli Stanback) in the 2009 performance of my work, "In the Mother Grove."

Shelli Stanback and Nia Dancers perform "What She Is"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sacred Swim

Here on the banks of our own river,
here in the divine Blue Ridge,  the French Broad,
here where we gathered to worship Her, Oshun,
Mother of the River,
here in our town, and here too
in Nigeria, Osogbo, sacred to Her,
we gathered by the river, to sing, to drum,
to dance our love for Her, for each other,
for the beauty of the day, for the golden honey,
for the rippling waters of our river, and Hers,
we came to be Hers, to live our lives with Her,
at our own river, the French Broad, and for all the rivers,
for the Oshun river, for the Mekong,
for the Mississippi and the Yangtze,
we came to sing, to pray, to call out to Oshun,
and yes!  to swim,  lover of the river,
immersing in Her, feeling Her currents,
as so many of us watched and swam along,
together as one, one with the swimmer,
and Oshun, Her ripples, Her currents,
Her smooth stones, Her coolness and warmth,
one with the birds and the leaves falling,
the offerings we cast upon the water,
one with she who swam all the way,
all the way and back again,
with us, with all of us, loving Her,
loving our Lady, swimming with Her,
swimming for the love of Her.

Annelinde Metzner
Blessings on the River
August 26, 2011

Above is a photo of Lula Moon, who was inspired to swim across our French Broad River, during our celebration of the sacred day of Oshun, Ifa (Nigerian) Goddess of the River.

      Oshun is a Yoruba orisha who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy.
For the second year, inspired by priestess Yeye Siju Osunyemi, along with the Wild Bodema Drummers and the Mother Grove Temple of the Goddess, my choir, Sahara Peace Choir, has helped celebrate Oshun and all rivers, and supported the Oshun Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Osogbo, Nigeria, where the people celebrate Oshun on the same day.  

Listen to Annelinde Metzner reading her poem, "Sacred Swim." 

For more information on the Ifa religion, follow this link to "Soul Seeds" by Rev. Anthony David, a UU minister in Atlanta, Georgia:  Soul Seeds

Yeye Osunyemi and others in prayer by the river

By the River                       

I returned to the riverside park,
the day quiet,  a few dry leaves blowing,
the river glassy, more like a lake really.
The lovely park which is all river, all Her,
Her power and majesty manifest,
just some grass and a sidewalk
plus Her, the River, magnificent.
There in the quiet by the tree of seven stems,
not a shred remained, but the memory of all this,
Oshun holding us gladly, still gazing and singing on the shore.
The voices chiming forth Her name,
the drummers and the drums,
the priestess bowing right to the ground,
the dancers, the smiling families,
the babies held high,
the worshippers offering their golden honey
for Her, for Her they moved to the river’s shore,
for Her they poured out their golden love,
their needs, their pain.
For Her someone doffed her clothes
and swam to the other side!
We gathered there by the river,
in the name of love and no more war.
We called out loud to Oshun,
for joy, for water, for our lives,
and She sings there still, calling back to us,
remembering our names.

Annelinde Metzner
Blessings on the River, Woodfin Riverside Park
September 15, 2010


Friday, October 14, 2011


Dawn, absolute quiet,
a time between the worlds,
a blessed time.
Stepping out of the old farmhouse
into the rich multihued muted greens,
the forest and the fields waking slowly,
the Sun yawning in the east,
the wood thrush nudges me, ever near.
Then, I catch my breath.
She is here!
Arms wide, the nimbus clouds
hold Her in Her giant pose,
Her huge joy covering the Catskills,
all that energy charging, charging.
The Dakini dances, arms wide,
smiling, open, brilliant,
giving light.

Annelinde Metzner            October 2011

 A Dakini (Sanskrit) is a Tantric deity described as a female embodiment of enlightened energy.  In the Tibetan language, Dakini is rendered 'Khandroma', which means ‘She who traverses the sky,’ or ‘She who moves in space.’   Sometimes the term is translated poetically as 'sky walker.'      (Wikipedia)

Listen to a reading of "Dakini" by Annelinde Metzner:
Morning, right before Dakini appeared